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In The Know: Oklahoma WIC contract ended with Planned Parenthood

by | October 4th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Oklahoma State Department of Health has ended its contract with Planned Parenthood to provide nutrition assistance for low-income women, infants, and young children. The OK Policy Blog has discussed an earlier attempt by legislators to remove Planned Parenthood from this program. A new student organization at the University of Oklahoma has been formed to promote political involvement on issues of reproductive justice and gender equality. Implementation of a plan to privatize parts of foster care and improve the welfare of children in state custody is well under way.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy named Oklahoma one of the most improved states for energy efficiency in its annual rankings. OK Policy previously examined why energy efficiency is important and what more we can do to improve it in Oklahoma. Legislators pulled a request to block the appropriation of $2 million in public funds to a private, nonprofit livestock show. Oklahoma Policy Institute released an updated fact sheet on budget trends and highlights.

A Senate interim study discussed the fact that state appropriations to common education have been reduced by nearly $200 million since 2009. Rep. Richard Morrissette called for the legislature to intervene on behalf of dozens of education leaders who have questioned the accuracy and fairness of A-F grades for schools. The U.S. Department of Education has started its own investigation into Douglass Mid-High School, where former students and teachers allege administrators changed grades and forged attendance records.

The Tulsa World spoke with OK Policy Director David Blatt and other state policy experts about last night’s presidential debate. David Blatt’s Journal Record column explains how we all pay taxes – rich, poor and middle class alike. The OK Policy Blog discussed how the decline of American labor unions has led to stagnant incomes for working families and growing inequality.

The Number of the Day is how many Oklahomans were enrolled in the food stamp program at some point during FY 2011. In today’s Policy Note, a new study Georgetown University researchers suggests that even if insurers are allowed to sell across state lines, they won’t choose to do so.

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What We're Reading: Harold Meyerson on 'What happens if labor dies?'

by | October 3rd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)

Harold Meyerson

Over the past several decades, income growth for most American families has been weak or non-existent. Between 1979 and 2007, incomes for the top 1 percent of households grew more than the bottom 90 percent. Incomes for the top 1 percent grew 241 percent compared to just 11 percent for the bottom fifth and 19 percent for the middle fifth.

This month’s cover story in the American Prospect by Harold Meyerson makes a compelling case that one of the main causes of the stagnant economic fortunes of working families and growing economic inequality is the weakened state of American labor unions. From a peak of one in three workers in the early 1950s, union membership has now shrunk to just 11.8 percent of American workers, and only 6.9 percent of workers in the private sector. In Oklahoma, just 6.4 percent of workers are unionized.

Meyerson shows how the union movement at its peak during the years following World War II through the mid-1970s was able to boost wages and incomes, not only of their members but of non-unionized workers as well. The hotel industry provides a telling example of the difference made by strong union density:

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In The Know: Panel told veterans living in state centers fear retaliation

by | October 3rd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that a legislative panel was told that veterans at some of the state’s veterans centers fear retaliation if they file a complaint. M. Scott Carter writes that are still many unanswered questions about the problems at veterans centers. Attorneys for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services said the non-profit that won a lawsuit over failures in Oklahoma’s child welfare system is requesting “extraordinary” fees and expenses. NewsOn6 has the full video of yesterday’s debate at Oral Roberts University by candidates for Oklahoma’s First Congressional District.

The OK Policy Blog analyzed State Question 764, which would provide financial reinforcement for water infrastructure projects in Oklahoma. Information on all of the state questions on the November ballot can be found at our 2012 State Questions page. Former Oklahoma Secretary of the Environment Miles Tolbert wrote in This Land Press on why we won’t stop fighting about water. Tulsa Public Schools is considering closing half of its pools to save money.

Nearly 500 public colleges and universities, including 12 in Oklahoma, signed on to an initiative that seeks to boost by 3.8 million [Oklahoman article incorrectly says 3.8 billion] the number of degrees awarded in the next 14 years. Oklahoma City plans to spend nearly $1.2 billion in the next five years on capital improvements related to public safety, public works and MAPS programs. Columbia Journalism Review criticized The Oklahoman for publishing a special 12-page insert that amounted to “a partisan hit piece on Obama.”

The Number of the Day is the percentage of graduating seniors in Oklahoma who scored ‘college-ready’ for math on the ACT. In today’s Policy Note, Dana Goldstein explains why the film ‘Won’t Back Down”, which was cited by Sen. David Holt and Superintendent Barresi as the inspiration for parent trigger legislation, has bad lessons for education policy.

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SQ 764: Towards a clean water future

by | October 2nd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, State Questions | Comments (2)

This post is by OK Policy intern Amanda Marcott Thottunkal. Amanda is pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at the University of Oklahoma. To find more about all of the state questions on the ballot in November, see our 2012 State Questions page.

According to a 2012 report by the Oklahoma Water Resource Board (OWRB), Oklahoma will be unable to meet its water demands by 2060. State Question 764 asks voters this November to give OWRB the financial reinforcement it needs to prevent the projected water shortfalls.

The question would add a new section to the Oklahoma State Constitution that allows OWRB to issue up to $300 million in bonds for a Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund (WICERF). The OWRB is already constitutionally authorized to purchase and issue bonds, and SQ764 does not change this. Rather, the $300 million dollar reserve fund provides an additional safety net for OWRB’s creditors.  The WICERF would only be drafted as a last resort – only if an Oklahoma municipality or city defaulted on a loan and only if all other OWRB reserve funds had been depleted (a scenario that has never occurred in the 27 years since the inception of OWRB’s financial assistance program).

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In The Know: Superintendent Barresi pledges support for 'parent trigger' law

by | October 2nd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Superintendent Barresi pledged support for “Parent Trigger Legislation” that allows 51 percent of parents whose children attend a low-performing school to force leadership changes or turn it into a charter school. Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry said it would be fair to consider charging airport industrial complex tenants more rent if they receive Vision2 funding. On the OK Policy Blog, Bob Friedman discussed the state of asset-building in the U.S. and how current asset policies reward the rich, miss the middle, and penalize the poor.

Overall state revenue collections in September slightly outpaced those from the prior year, despite continued lower collections from oil and natural gas production. Reuters released a special report on casualties of Chesapeake Energy’s “land grab” across America. The Tahlequah Daily Press examined the state of Affordable Care Act compliance in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma ranked 44th in the U.S. for infant mortality, with about 400 babies each year in Oklahoma dying before their first birthday. A Tulsa police captain who refused to attend a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” at the Islamic Society of Tulsa will get his old job back and receive half of the pay that was withheld while he was suspended.

The number of the day is the average annual amount Oklahoma employees contributed in premiums for an employer-sponsored health insurance policy in 2011. In today’s Policy Note, political scientists Suzanne Mettler and John Sides explain why dividing Americans between “makers” and “takers” fails to capture the way that we experience government, with nearly everyone paying for government social policies with tax dollars and directly benefiting from these policies at some point in our lives.

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Interview with Bob Friedman: Our asset policies 'reward the rich, miss the middle, penalize the poor'

by | October 1st, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (0)

Last week, I attended CFED’s 2012 Assets Learning Conference, a biannual national gathering of practitioners, researchers, and advocates working to promote economic opportunity and fight poverty for low- and moderate-income Americans through savings, investment and ownership. Following the conference, I sat down with Bob Friedman, CFED’s founder, Board Chair and General Counsel, to discuss the state of the asset building field.

David Blatt: You’ve been active in this field a long time. What do you see as the biggest changes in the area of asset-building today compared to 15 or 20 years ago.

Bob Friedman: First of all, it’s so much bigger. We did our first conference 16 years ago, which was an IDA (Individual Development Account) learning conference and there were 150 people.  We just finished this conference, where we had 1,200-plus.  Today we see so many more programs, people, policies across the field.  Even the classes of assets we talk about has expanded.  It was always homes, businesses and education. Now it’s citizenship, assistive technology for people with disabilities, emergency savings as well.  Also, we now cover a larger spectrum of financial security – learn, earn, save, invest, protect. The innovation is burgeoning.

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In The Know: Lack of funding for corrections reforms could create bottlenecks

by | October 1st, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that new corrections and public safety reforms are scheduled to take effect in one month, but key components – including mental health assessments before sentencing and substance abuse treatment – before release aren’t fully funded and could create bottlenecks in a criminal justice system already at capacity. OK Policy previously warned that inadequate funding for these goals could hamper the reforms. The Board of Juvenile Affairs discussed the need for additional higher-security beds and staff raises to reduce turnover.

The Norman Transcript reported on the debate over State Question 762, which would remove the governor from the parole process for less serious, non-violent crimes. The Tulsa World reported on the winners and losers if two state questions to change the property tax pass. Find more on all of the state questions at our 2012 State Questions page.

More than 300 public school district superintendents have resigned since 2006, and another 218 have retired or been fired. Governor Fallin was challenged at a town hall over the state’s lack of support for education. The okeducationtruths blog discussed problems with “parent triggers” to wrest control of schools away from the district.

Interim DHS Director Doerflinger discussed changes confronting the agency. About 22 percent of Oklahoma medical doctors received their professional training in foreign countries. Even as enrollment grows at their four-year counterparts, many community colleges in Oklahoma are seeing their enrollments decline.

The Tulsa City County Health Department is leading an initiative to women better access to long-acting contraceptives. A report by Families USA shows that more Oklahomans would live without health insurance and those who have coverage would pay more for it under the health-care policies advocated by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Low pay and failed drug tests is creating a shortage of health care workers for Oklahoma soldiers.

The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank nationally for the number of children in the foster care system per capita. In today’s Policy Note, Mother Jones reports on aging of the inmate population that is shaping up to be a crisis with moral, practical, and economic implications for cash-strapped governments.

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The Weekly Wonk: September 28, 2012

by | September 28th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy announced that we’re seeking to hire a health care policy analyst; the deadline for applications is October 15.  The OK Policy Blog addressed State Question 762 and explained why it’s time to remove the Governor from decisions about parole for non-violent offenders. Find more on all of the state questions at OK Policy’s 2012 State Questions page.

Also this week, we posted a speech from the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on why consumer-friendly financial regulation is critical for poor and middle class families to move up the economic ladder.  We shared a short video of just the facts about Social Security.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column asks how do we respond, as individuals and as a society, to those among us who are less privileged.  KWGS Public Radio Tulsa interviewed Matthew Yglesias, a Slate correspondent who was visiting to speak at an OK Policy event.

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In The Know: Oklahoma pastors deliver petitions, announce boycott of Hobby Lobby

by | September 28th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that some Oklahoma pastors plan to deliver petitions with over 80,000 signatures to Hobby Lobby officials, urging them not to use Christian beliefs to deny women access to birth control.  School officials have until today to submit data that will be used to come up with their ‘letter grade’ assessment from the State Dept. of Education.  The Tulsa World Editorial Board says Gov. Fallin and others are paying lip service to public education, but piling on new mandates while intentionally underfunding classrooms.  For a roundup of the latest from Oklahoma Policy Institute on the education debate, click here.

Google has signed a deal with the Grand River Damn Authority to buy wind power from a wind farm in central Oklahoma.  The Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains why consumer-friendly financial regulation is critical for poor and middle class families to move up the economic ladder.  Counselors and mental health professionals are urging Oklahoma parents to talk to their kids about suicide, the second leading cause of death among the state’s teens and young adults.

An Oklahoma lawmaker wants to use CareerTech funding to provide vocational training to juvenile offenders.  A Sand Springs woman shared her story of being victimized by human trafficking to a legislative panel exploring ways to deal with what police say is a growing problem in Oklahoma.  In today’s Policy Note, Consumer Reports weighs in on what consumers need to know about the Affordable Care Act.  The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans who support the expanded use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy.

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In The Know: Fallin discusses education funding at town hall meeting

by | September 27th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that participants in a town hall meeting in Tulsa challenged Gov. Mary Fallin over education funding. Fallin she remains committed to education but stopped short of promising more money for it. Public Service Co. of Oklahoma plans to spend up to $350 million to remove coal from its Oklahoma generating fleet by 2026. A group backed by The State Chamber released its initial evaluation Wednesday of how the nine justices on the Oklahoma Supreme Court rule on liability cases.

KOSU reports on debate over State Question 762, which would remove the Governor from decisions about parole for non-violent offenders. The OK Policy Blog explains why it’s time to make this change. Find more on all of the state questions at OK Policy’s 2012 State Questions page. David Blatt’s Journal Record column asks how do we respond, as individuals and as a society, to those among us who are less privileged. In the wake of a 13-year-old killing himself at Stillwater Junior High, NewsOK examines the high rate of suicide among Oklahoma teens.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said war whoops, chants and tomahawk chops being used to taunt a Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate are racist and offensive. Rep. David Dank questioned the growth in tax credits used by insurance companies and whether the state should be reimbursing counties and schools for tax revenue lost when property owners take exemptions. StateImpact Oklahoma shows what Oklahoma’s non-farm employment looks like in one chart.

The Number of the Day is  how many states have gained back all the jobs lost during the Great Recession. In today’s Policy Note, Reason discusses how we could see the beginning of a rebellion against marijuana prohibition this year in three state referendums.

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